Astronomy Picture of the Day

X-Rays from the Perseus Cluster Core

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X-Rays from the Perseus Cluster Core


The Perseus Cluster of thousands of galaxies,
250 million light-years distant, is
one of
the most massive objects
the Universe
and the brightest galaxy cluster in the
x-ray sky.

At its core lies the giant
cannibal galaxy Perseus A
, accreting matter as
gas and galaxies fall into it.

This deep
Observatory x-ray image spans about 300,000 light-years
across the galaxy cluster core.

It shows
remarkable details
of x-ray emission from the monster galaxy and
surrounding hot (30-70 million degrees C) cluster gas.

The bright central source is the supermassive
at the core of Perseus A itself.

Low density regions are seen as dark bubbles or voids,
believed to be generated by cyclic outbursts of activity
from the central black hole.

The activity creates pressure waves -
sound waves on a cosmic scale-
that ripple through the x-ray hot gas.

Dramatically, the blue-green wisps just above centre in the
false-color view are likely x-ray shadows of
the remains of a small galaxy falling into the burgeoning
Perseus A.

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